The first phase of the 2019 GTBank Lagos International Polo Tournament come to an exciting end last weekend, with Kaduna Trappco beating Almat Farms (2) of Abuja 8-7 to emerge champions of the Open Cup while Lagos NRT defeated Kaduna Tila Farms also by 8-7 score line to clinch the Silver Cup.
The Open and Silver cups finals were decided via penalties as parts of the pitch were water locked rendering the turf unfit to play the four chukkas final games, after a heavy down pour the night before.
The first match of the day saw Kano Ibah defeated Lagos Machines 8-7 to clinch the Silver Cup Subsidiary title. The Silver Cup final as well as the Subsidiary Silver Cup were decided on sudden death as both teams were tied after all the first set of penalties.
A+Renmoney Bluechip, who won one of the four major titles last year with their hard fighting patron, Luqman Adebayo leading the attack for the encore. Backed by their teeming fans, they fought well to win the local derby, clinched the prestigious Oba of Lagos Cup.
Their arch rivals, Caverton Saopolo had taken an early lead, but APlus rallied to draw level in the third chukka, and ran out the champions at the expense Caverton Sao Polo with a 7 -6 ½ score line after a tense five chukkas final game decided before a full house at the foremost Ribadu Road polo ground in Ikoyi.
For the Oba of Lagos Cup, five-goaler Pedro Soria, Mario Gomez (+4) and Ahmadu Umar (+3) were all on top of their games in a nail-biting contest as pre-tournament favourites, Caverton/Saopolo led by Lagos polo Captain, Rotimi Makanjuela and Tournament Manager, Seyi Oyinlola mounted pressure on their city rivals,, but fall short of the royal title.
APlus chief predator, Adebayo who salute the courage of their opponents for giving the final game their best shots, thank his teammates and their supporters for their commitment, and dedicated the victory to Hakeem Muri Akinola and the team sponsors, Bluechip.
Five Lagos teams featured in the Silver Cup which was contested for by 12 teams from Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Kano, Kaduna and host Lagos, while the Open Cup had two home teams and one each from Abuja and Kaduna.
The second and grand finale phase of the international tournament holds plenty of promises both on and off the pitch, weather permitting. For three year running, rains have consistently disrupted the glamorous Lagos fiesta.
This worrisome development has remained a source of concern by polo enthusiasts and chieftains of host Lagos Polo Club, whose spirited efforts at combating the menace, is yielding little results ahead of today’s the grand finale.
The crowded Lagos Low Cup that attracted fourteen ambitious equally match teams with a handful of rookies from all the major polo centres across the country, has created an incredible match ups that has not produced any leading side ahead of the final to be decided this evening.
Event’s biggest prize, Majekodunmi Cup final game to be decided today, will undoubtedly by the star attraction as debuting Maurice Ekpenyong’s Almat Group team clash with Bode Makanjuela’s Lagos Centaurs side that will be making their second attempt at the coveted title.
Two big subsidiary cups, the Italian Ambassador’s Cup and the Kaiser Cup, now Independence Cup reputed as the oldest polo prize in Nigeria competed for by high-goal teams since early 1900s, would also be decided, as this international fiesta thrills to its grand finale.
True to its Elite, stylish and extravagant tradition nurtured over the decades, the social scene of this annual tournament was as much of a show as the game on the pitch, with loads of entertainment and a colourful crowd that include, Obas, Emirs, Business tycoons, and society affluence lapping up magic of the ancient noble game that made an historic landfall way back in 1904.
After an exciting and colourful first stage that produced three new champions and a handful of subsidiary winners, an elated Managing Director, GTBank, Segun Agbaje, reiterated the bank’s commitment to the noble game of kings that was first played in Lagos in 1904.
Agbaje, who is a polo freak and a regular at the legendary at the Ribadu polo ground, pointed out that the sponsorship of this year’s tournament demonstrates the bank’s strong belief in the role of sports in developing and uniting the society.
The tournament also has BUA, Coca-cola and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCO) as gold sponsors while the cup sponsors are Chapel Hill Denham, WAPIC, Metro Capital, Arbico, Vueve Clicquot, and Self Assembly Furniture., among other partners.
Lagos Polo Club President, Ade Laoye who has participated in the tournament on many occasions, says the contest for the contest for the Majekodunmi Cup prize this year promises to be the most competitive and the most exciting in years.
He thumbs-up all the corporate sponsors for promoting polo and sports generally in Lagos and in Nigerian as a whole, noting that the relationship between Lagos polo and sponsors over the years has had a positive impact in the society.
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